Later tonight, the Pittsburgh Steelers will host the Tennessee Titans and kick off week 11 of the 2017 NFL regular season. Both teams are well on their way to earn a spot in the postseason so tonight's matchup could have major implications on playoff seeding. Before getting too far ahead of ourselves, however, let's take one look back at an eventful week 10.
1. The AFC East is in a downwards spiral: Early on in the season, the AFC East has been the NFL's most competitive division and when looking at the standings it still appears to be in solid shape. However, the Patriots' division has been trending downwards the last few weeks. With the exception of the reigning champions, all of the AFC East's teams lost in week 10 and are in danger of falling behind in the race for the playoffs.
2. New Orleans has one of the NFL's most complete teams: One of the AFC East team's losing were the Buffalo Bills, who were blown out 47-10 by the visiting Saints and it wasn't even that close. New Orleans dominated from start to finish and showed why it is a team to be reckoned with down the line: The offense was balanced, the defense was stout and both units were highly productive. Right now, the Saints look like one of the NFL's top five teams – at least.
3. The Vikings should not be underestimated: Just like the Saints, the Vikings are playing some very good football right now. Minnesota showed it again on Sunday, when the team won 38-30 in Washington to improve its record to 7-2. While the Vikings appear to be flying under the radar a bit, they are a team that could make some noise in the NFC come playoff time.
4. Richard Sherman will be a big loss for the Seahawks: Staying in the NFC, one of the conference's best teams is dealing with some problems. Not only do the Seahawks field one of the NFL's worst offensive lines, the team has also now lost one of its best defensive players: Cornerback Richard Sherman tore his Achilles tendon one week ago and will miss the remainder of the season. A tough blow for a team that is trying to earn a wildcard spot.
5. Los Angeles and Jacksonville did everything not to win: The award for strangest game of the week goes to the Chargers and Jaguars as both teams appeared to do everything to give the contest away. Up 17-14, the visiting Chargers registered two takeaways but failed to close the door as they were a) giving the ball away themselves or b) simply failed to take time off the clock. Los Angeles thus watched Jacksonville tie the game late, before throwing an interception and losing on a tipped field goal.
6. Vontaze Burfict continues to make headlines for the wrong reasons: Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has earned a reputation for being arguably the dirtiest player in the NFL – and he added to it on Sunday. After a rather questionable penalty against him, the veteran was ejected for initiating contact with an official. Not a good look for a player constantly flirting with suspension.
7. Pittsburgh is playing down to its competition: On paper, the Steelers have a vastly superior team when compared to the Colts. Nevertheless, the team needed a last-second field goal to earn a come-from-behind win at Indianapolis and were playing down to their competition all game long. Pittsburgh was particularly uneven on offense and had issues keeping drives alive versus a Colts defense that is one of the worst in the NFL.
8. Dak Prescott might be in for a bumpy ride: No Ezekiel Elliott, no Tyron Smith, no good day for Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. Without the star running back and standout left tackle to support him, the second-year passer looked nothing like the player that became a superstar last year (credit where credit is due, though, as the Falcons defense played a very good game). Both Elliott and Smith will ultimately return but unless Prescott can elevate his game without the two, the Cowboys' offensive struggles might continue until then.
9. The Ryan Fitzpatrick Cycle is spinning again: In case you have never heard of the Ryan Fitzpatrick Cycle, it goes like this: He gets signed as a backup, replaces the injured starter, plays well, earns the starting position, earns an extension, plays poorly, gets released and ultimately ends up on another team as the backup and the cycle begins anew. It looks like we have reached phase three in Tampa Bay: Fitzpatrick, in his first start in place of an injured Jameis Winston, helped his team snap a five-game losing streak.
10. The Giants have hit rock bottom: New York is having one of its worst seasons in recent memory – and the team somehow found a way to make it even worse by losing against the previously winless 49ers. At 1-8 the team is in contention for the number one overall draft pick and one has to wonder how much of an overhaul we will see next offseason.
Bonus thing we learned: You need to wear a helmet anytime Brock Osweiler is near you.
The Brock Osweiler Experience. pic.twitter.com/YYHi3ru1ph— Pats Pulpit (@patspulpit) November 13, 2017